KMZ  –  Vintage Camera Brand

KMZ Brand Overview

KMZ logo

Founded: 1942 — Krasnogorsk, USSR
(modern day Russia)
Currently: Krasnogorskiy zavod im. S. A. Zvereva

KMZ Brand History

KMZ, short for Krasnogorski Mekhanicheskiy Zavod (Krasnogorsk Mechanical Factory) is a mechanical factory established during World War II in Krasnogorsk, a suburb of Moscow. KMZ is perhaps best known for its Zorki and Zenit lines of 35mm SLR and rangefinder cameras.

Originally founded in 1942 to meet the increased wartime demand for optical instruments, KMZ initially began producing binoculars, rifle scopes, aerial reconnaissance cameras, and other optics for the Red Army. After Germany’s defeat in 1945, the Carl Zeiss factory in the city of Jena was looted and the schematics brought to KMZ where production of Zeiss-designed lenses began.

Soon afterward, KMZ began making the Zorki–a line of cameras originally based on the remarkable Leica II–and also the Moskva which were modeled after Zeiss’s medium format Ikonta series. In the 1950s, the famed Zenit line of SLR cameras was introduced. Based on the Zorki which had over two million units produced until 1980, Zenit production surged over the next three decades with over six million units made with dozens of variants available. In addition to consumer cameras, KMZ also produced spy cameras for the KGB.

During the 1980s, camera production at KMZ trailed off as focus shifted to military optics. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, KMZ became an independent company. These days, KMZ produces rifle scopes, night vision goggles, and laser rangefinders for various military applications.

Interested in starting or growing your own collection of KMZ cameras?
Check eBay to see what’s available.

McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown’s Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 2001-2002. (Grantsburg, WI, USA: Centennial Photo Service, 2001), p 387-394.

“Krasnogorsky Zavod,” Wikipedia,

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